Everything you need to know about traveling after vaccination

You've had your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and are scheduled for your second dose. Is it time to book a ticket to meet your bestie for the first time in over a year? Before you go, you'll want to know the latest guidance on whether it's safe to travel after being vaccinated.

What the CDC’s travel guidance says

By waiting at least two weeks after receiving your second dose, you will be fully vaccinated and then the fun can begin. According to new guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on March 8, fully vaccinated people can hang out indoors within six feet of other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks. The CDC says you can hug your friends even if they haven't received their second shot as long as they're not at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

But that doesn’t mean you should take the first flight to see a long-lost friend. The CDC has not changed its travel recommendations now that vaccinations are more widespread. Even if you're vaccinated, the CDC's travel recommendations remain the same: People should postpone travel and stay home. This is because your vaccine status protects you , but not necessarily those around you.

"Once we're fully vaccinated, we're less likely to get sick from COVID-19," Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, MD, One Medical's regional medical director, previously told Bustle about activities you can safely do after being vaccinated. “However, we don’t yet know if we can contract asymptomatic COVID-19 and spread it to others – although this is unlikely based on emerging evidence.”

Is it safe to travel when fully vaccinated?

People have continued to travel throughout the pandemic, despite CDC recommendations against doing so. If you've packed your rolling suitcase, you'll want to reduce your travel risks as much as possible.

Dr. Bhuyan explains that if you're going to travel anyway, you have to think about where you're going and how you're going to get there. "The risk of travel depends on the mode of transportation, regional case rates and the mitigation strategies of the places you visit," she said. In other words, it's safest for the community around you if you avoid travel altogether, but If you do put on hard pants and get off the couch for a trip, caution is still key.

Choose to travel in a car with other fully vaccinated people (who the CDC says it's okay to hang out without wearing a mask) rather than taking public transportation because you can't be sure of the risk you pose to those around you. Try to avoid traveling to or leaving areas with high COVID-19 rates, as you may be carrying the virus (or bringing it home).

You don’t know the risk factors or vaccination status of people walking their dogs near bus stops, so to protect the communities you’re traveling to, leaving, and passing through, take extra care by wearing a mask and keeping your distance in public.

What is a vaccine passport?

When it's safe to travel, as it was in 2019, some experts suggest people start using "vaccine passports." Some companies, airlines and countries are considering developing these digital "proof of vaccination" documents so you can travel to countries currently closed to U.S. travelers. Currently, if you do have to travel abroad, in addition to the different international quarantine and testing requirements, you will generally need to quarantine for at least 7 days after testing negative upon return. Although vaccine passports don't exist yet, they could remove these barriers and make travel feel a little more like before.

On February 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement stating that insufficient is currently known about the possibility of asymptomatic transmission after vaccination to safely use vaccine passports as a standard for authorizing international travel. The White House said on March 9 that the private sector and nonprofit groups may develop vaccine passports, but the administration will only focus on the logistics of actually getting people vaccinated. In other words, if you're preparing for a domestic trip, don't pack your international luggage just yet.